Adult Health Library

Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Click a letter to see a list of conditions beginning with that letter.
Click 'Topic Index' to return to the index for the current topic.
Click 'Library Index' to return to the listing of all topics.

Cytology

What is cytology?

Cytology is the exam of a single cell. These cells are often found in fluid samples. Cytology is used to do the following:

  • Diagnose or screen for cancer or diseases

  • Screen for fetal abnormalities

  • Screen for pap smears

  • Diagnose infectious organisms

  • For other screening and diagnostic areas

The cells to be checked may be taken by these methods:

  • Scraping or brushing the tissue surface, such as during a pap smear

  • Collecting body fluids, such as for urine or respiratory mucus (phlegm)

  • Removing cells by drawing them through a fine needle (fine-needle aspiration), such as abdominal fluid in ascites, pleural fluid from the lungs, or cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal canal

  • Other types of tissue biopsy 

Cytology is different from histology. Cytology generally means looking at a single cell type. Histology is looking at an entire block of tissue. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Paula Goode RN BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Contact Our Health Professionals
Follow Us
Powered by StayWell
About StayWell | StayWell Disclaimer